NOTHING SAYS "WELCOME HOME" LIKE TORRENTS OF RAIN
Minus a couple extra layers of dust and the initial bit of brown water filling my sinks from months of sedentary life in the pipes, I've returned to an apartment relatively unscathed by my absence. The trip back to my home away from home went considerably smoother than the one a few months ago - no missed flights, no extra unforeseen expenses, and no searing back pain from schlepping around three times my weight in luggage. All told, it was a good journey back.
At LAX I had a twelve hour layover which passed conveniently well through a relaxing bout of reading and catching up on my dad's blog (a novel in and of itself). A few hours before my international flight was to leave, I left the gate to find some dinner and saw walking towards me a warming image of familiarity manifested in my good friends and fellow Shiyaners, John and Megan Calvillo. I had no idea they (or the host of other new China teachers) were on our flight to Hong Kong. It was a pleasant surprise which I continued to enjoy as I met not only the newbies coming to my city but, also, several former OC students who I had known briefly while I was in college at UCO. Oklahoma is well represented in China this year.
Jessica and I parted with our old and new friends in Hong Kong where, for the sake of unconsciously making things mildly more difficult for our school, we flew to Xi'an instead of Wuhan. We were received in Xi'an by wonderful Maya and that ever-smothering cloud of smog which enjoys welcoming all foreigners each year. This was Wednesday morning and since Jessica and I had both been to Xi'an before, we forewent sightseeing, made a run to Metro to buy a few months worth of cheese, and returned to our hotel to retire early.
Thursday morning our train left for Shiyan. A side note here to encourage everyone who sees anyone ever struggling with dragging sixty five pounds of luggage (not counting that already strapped to the body) up a mountain of stairs to kindly help him or her out. It has never failed that when I find myself staring at three flights of stairs and wondering where in my small frame I will find the strength to make it to the top, an angel in a Chinese body swoops in from nowhere to aid me. If there had been a preacher at the top of those stairs, I would have married that gentlemen in a second if I could have found the energy to say "I do" or whatever the equivalent is in Chinese. And in the same way he entered our lives majestically, he left quietly, never knowing just how much appreciation was hidden behind the constraints of the "thank you's" we poured his way.
We arrived in Shiyan to a downpour of rain through which I drug my broken rolling duffle bag, soaking several books housed precariously inside it. We were picked up by a woman from our school and told that we would need to find space to fit Barry, the new teacher for our school, and his luggage. Seeing no possible way this was going to happen, Jessica and I opted to take a taxi home so Barry's first impression of our school wouldn't be one made while riding atop the van in the pouring rain (as there would have been no other place for him to fit). So we made it to our apartments Thursday evening. It is now Saturday morning (my apologies for a delayed post), and it is currently not raining - a first since we arrived.
This afternoon we have a foreigner meet and greet/planning party at the medical school, and tomorrow will be a sweet Family reunion. Things are starting off great.